Woman who drowned son deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial

Judge orders woman who allegedly drowned sons to 90 days in psychiatric treatment.
By Danielle Haynes  |  April 9, 2014 at 8:46 AM
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PITTSBURGH, April 9 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania woman accused of drowning her two sons was declared mentally unfit for trial by a psychiatrist.

Common Pleas President Judge Jeffrey A. Manning ordered Laurel Michelle Schlemmer, 40, to spend three months in a state hospital for psychological treatment for depression, psychosis and suicidal thoughts.

“Most people with psychiatric disorders, with adequate treatment, improve or have a full recovery,” said Dr. Lawson Bernstein, a Pittsburgh-based forensic psychiatrist.

Dr. Christine Martone, chief psychiatrist for Allegheny County's Behavioral Assessment Unit, evaluated Schlemmer.

“Competence to stand trial means you have a factual and rational understanding of the charges against you and that you're able to cooperate with your attorney,” she said.

Schlemmer has been charged with killing her two youngest sons, Daniel, 6, and Luke, 3. Luke died April 1 at the time of the incident and Daniel on Saturday after being declared brain dead.

Her oldest son, a 7-year-old, was at school at the time of the incident and her husband was at work.

Authorities said Schlemmer initially told them she drowned the boys accidentally, then allegedly admitted she sat on them in the tub. She told them she thought she could do a better job raising her eldest son and that the younger boys would be better off in heaven.


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